Book Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Reviewed: December 16th 2021
Released: July 8th, 2021
Genre: Fairytale retelling

A princess in exile. Six enchanted cranes. An unspeakable curse.

A beautiful and immersive YA fantasy retelling of the Grimm brothers’ The Six Swans fairytale, set in an East-Asian inspired world, by the author of Spin the Dawn.

Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs. 

Helen’s thoughts: 4/5

If that cover doesn’t draw you in, nothing will! Such a delicate and beautiful design, and the Fairyloot edition is even more gorgeous with lilac sprayed and stencilled edges. Exquisite, and a jewel on any booklovers shelf!

But what’s inside you ask? Well! Where to start?

Knowing that this is a retelling of the fairytale ‘The Six Swans’, I must admit I felt it took a while to get into the story as you are expecting the key points. But having said that, there are enough twists and turns to keep you engaged instead of anticipating.

Kiki the origami crane is a wonderful voice of reason in the spiralling descent Shiori and her brothers suffer, and I think is a symbol of the fragile nature of life, both natural and unnatural.

The six brothers come to life as the book progresses, and you can’t help but sympathise with both them and with Shiori as she struggles to beat the curse. I must admit that having a bowl on her head does stretch the belief a bit and took some of the magic of the story away for me, as no one seems to think it strange. I don’t understand why everyone accepted it as normal and didn’t question it all.

I love that there are dragons, though I would have liked to have seen more. I think the dragons have more impact on the world Lim has built than this first book gives credit to.

Overall a beautifully written tale, with as delicate a turn of phrase as the exquisite cover. The Asian influence on the story takes this fairytale to another level and there is more to come.

About the author:

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English. 

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, but she always missed writing. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since. 

Elizabeth grew up in Northern California, with a brief stint in Tokyo, Japan, but now lives in New York with her husband and their two daughters.

To learn more about Elizabeth, visit her site at and follow her on Instagram @elimpix

Purchase Book One: Six Crimson Cranes

Link to book on Amazon UK: eBook | Hardcover

Link to book on Amazon US: Paperback | Hardcover

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If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook or paperback: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next books are published.

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